Oxford’s Robinson and Sapp named finalists for state’s top educator awards

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The LOU Community could be the home of the Mississippi Teacher of the Year for the third straight year.

Mississippi Department of Education announced their finalists for 2020 State Teacher and Administrator of the Year, and Oxford School District’s Keri Jo Sapp and Sarah Hall Robinson were included.

Every year, the MDE honors an administrator and teacher whom they consider to be at the top of their profession. The Administrator of the Year honors an administrator who demonstrates superior ability to inspire teachers, employs exemplary leadership practices and participates as an active member of the community.

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Sapp is the principal at Bramlett Elementary and is the finalist for Congressional District 1. The three other finalists are Inverness Elementary principal Brenda Singleton of the Sunflower County Consolidated School District from District 2, Mannsdale Upper Elementary principal Debra Rowe Houghton of Madison County School District from District 3 and Laurel Magnet School of Arts principal Kiana Pendleton of Laurel School District in District 4.

Robinson teaches ninth grade Biology and Pre-AP Biology at Oxford High School and is the District 1 finalist for Teacher of the Year. Robinson became eligible for the state’s top honor after being named the OSD Teacher of the Year earlier this year. Other finalists are Clinton High School math teacher Mina Conlee Darnell, who teachers 11th grade Honors Mathematics in the Clinton Public School District in District 2, Forest High School math teacher April Lang, who teachers ninth through 11th grade mathematics in the Forest Municipal School District in District 3 and Petal High School teacher Benjamin Austin, who teaches ninth and 10th grade social studies in the Petal School District in District 4.

For the past two years, the state’s top teacher has come from Lafayette County School District. Whitney Drewery won the award in 2018, and Hannah Gadd won in 2019.

This year’s Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 stipend and represent Mississippi in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Both the Administrator and Teacher of the Year recipients will be announced during a luncheon on March 27 at 11 a.m. at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson.